Wildfire smoke: what you can do to stay healthy. An unfortunate trend we may continue to see each year
Destructive wildfires ravaged through the Western United States last month, and unfortunately it may be a trend we continue to see each year. The smoke this fall has impacted nearly every Oregonian. People with chronic lung and heart diseases are especially vulnerable to the effects of hazardous air quality.
Exposure to smoke can hurt your eyes, irritate your respiratory system, cause headaches or chest pain, irritate your throat, and exacerbate existing health conditions or illnesses.
When smoke is present and air is hazardous:
- Stay indoors whenever possible.
- Avoid exercise and activities that tax your breathing.
- Use an N95 mask or better when exposure to unhealthy air is unavoidable. Simple surgical masks do not filter out the harmful smoke particles.
- Keep your windows and outside doors tightly closed.
- If possible, use a HEPA equipped air purifier in a room in your home with the least exposure to outside air to create a safer environment. Some air-conditioning systems can accomplish this as well.
- For people who live in severely affected areas, evacuate to somewhere with cleaner air if feasible.
If you have a lung or heart condition, reach out to your medical provider for specific information relevant for you. Plan ahead before next fire season and be sure you have extra medications on hand in case you need to evacuate or leave the area.
Now that this year’s wildfire smoke has likely passed, it’s a good time to check your air filter – it likely needs replacing!
The Oregon Clinic also offers virtual visits (a video appointment with a doctor). Please call to determine whether your appointment can be a virtual visit: 503-935-8000. Find out more at www.oregonclinic.com.